How to Become a Dermatology Nurse

NurseJournal Staff
Updated January 11, 2023
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Interested in becoming a dermatology nurse? This guide explains how to become a dermatology nurse, typical work settings, and how to earn certification.
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Dermatology nurses need either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) to practice, providing care to patients receiving treatment for skin disorders. They enjoy more predictable hours than nurses in other healthcare settings, often with less physical demands.

This guide explores how to become a dermatology nurse, salary expectations, and workplace settings. Keep reading for more on the necessary education and licensing for dermatology nurses.

What is a Dermatology Nurse?

Dermatology nurses work in a variety of healthcare settings, including dermatologist offices, plastic surgery departments, or hospital burn units. While many people associate dermatology with cosmetic procedures, dermatology nurses also play a vital role in preventing and treating skin cancer and helping people with serious facial injuries.

One of the benefits of becoming a dermatology nurse is the relative ease of work-life balance. Dermatology nurses working in non-emergency settings, such as dermatology practices often enjoy a more predictable schedule than nurses caring for hospital patients, with relatively little evening or weekend work.

Steps to Becoming a Dermatology Nurse

Becoming a dermatology nurse requires graduating from nursing school, passing the NCLEX-RN, and earning a registered nurse (RN) license. Many employers require RNs to obtain certification in basic life support and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS). This is especially common in offices where patients may be under sedation or anesthesia during procedures.

Earn an ADN or BSN Degree

You can earn either a two-year ADN or a four-year BSN. The BSN prepares you to earn a master’s degree, and many employers, especially at academic medical centers, prefer BSN graduates for higher-level positions. However, if an ADN is the right option for you now, after you gain experience you can later enroll in an RN-to-BSN program and earn a BSN in one additional year.

Pass the NCLEX to Receive RN Licensure

The NCLEX-RN is a multiple-hour examination on nursing skills, infection prevention and control, communication, and legal and ethical aspects of nursing. When considering schools, compare NCLEX-RN pass rates and graduation rates.

Gain Experience in Dermatology Nursing

Once you graduate and earn your RN license, you can start working as a dermatology nurse. You might work in a dermatology or cosmetic surgery private practice or for a hospital or health system. Employers offer entry-level dermatology nurses on-the-job training.

Consider Becoming a Certified Dermatology Nurse

Once you have two years of experience, you can pursue certification as a dermatology nurse. The Dermatology Nursing Certification Board (affiliated with the Dermatology Nurses
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Dermatology Nurse Education

The fastest route to becoming a dermatology nurse is to earn a two-year ADN degree, or you can earn a four-year BSN degree. The right path for you depends on your goals and circumstances.

ADN Degree

An ADN takes two years to complete, tuition is typically more affordable, and programs are more accessible than BSN options. However, some employers may require or prefer a BSN, especially for higher-level positions.

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    Admission Requirements

    Typically a high school diploma or GED certificate, with math and science courses

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    Program Curriculum

    Nursing skills, infection prevention and control, safety and hygiene, communications, how the healthcare system works, and legal and ethical practices

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    Time to Complete

    2 years

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    Skills Learned

    Using medical equipment, running medical tests, monitoring patients, updating medical records, educating patients

BSN Degree

The BSN degree covers the same nursing skills as the ADN, but builds on theory and practice of nursing. The BSN also positions you to earn an MSN and become an advanced practice nurse. However, it is a more expensive and time-consuming path to becoming a dermatology nurse.

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    Admission Requirements

    High school diploma or GED certificate, passing grades in math and science, typically 3.0 GPA or higher

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    Program Curriculum

    Nursing skills, nursing theory and practice, public health, and nurse leadership

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    Time to Complete

    Typically four years. If you have a bachelor’s degree in another subject and have completed certain prerequisite courses, or an ADN, some schools offer bridge programs that let you finish faster.

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    Skills Learned

    Using medical equipment, running medical tests, monitoring patients, updating medical records, educating patients, leadership, public health promotion, applying evidence-based practices

Dermatology Nurse Licensure and Certification

The basic requirement to become a dermatology nurse is an RN license. After you earn your license, you must renew it by completing continuing education. While specifics vary by state, you can earn your continuing education credit by taking classes from accredited providers, attending conferences that are approved for credit, or completing approved reading and passing a test.

While not required for becoming a dermatology nurse, certification is a valuable credential, and many employers require or strongly prefer it. The Dermatology Nursing Certification Board, which is affiliated with the Dermatology Nurses’ Association, offers certification.

The requirements for licensure include a clear and unencumbered RN license, a minimum of two years of experience as a dermatology RN and at least 2,000 hours of dermatology RN experience in the last two years. Like an RN license, you must maintain your certification through continuing professional education and renewal every three years.

You can also earn certification in different cosmetic procedures, especially cosmetic injections such as fillers and Botox. These programs are available from a variety of providers and most programs require approximately one day of hands-on learning.

Working as a Dermatology Nurse

You can join the Dermatology Nurses’ Association as a student to start building your network. This can also help you learn more about different types of dermatology nurse positions and settings.

Job responsibilities vary by work setting. Work in a plastic surgery or burn treatment practice might include helping during surgeries, providing postoperative care (such as wound treatment and removing stitches), and educating patients on signs of infection or complications. In a practice focused on aesthetics, you might perform some aesthetic procedures and educate patients on post-treatment care and recovery.

Salaries for dermatology nurses vary based on role, experience, and type of practice, as well as local demand and cost of living. According to ZipRecruiter, the average dermatology nurse salary is $80,860.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Dermatology Nurse

question-mark-circleHow many years does it take to become a dermatology nurse?

It takes at least two years to earn an ADN degree, or four years to earn a BSN degree. Once you earn your degree, you must pass the NCLEX-RN to earn your nursing license.

question-mark-circleWhat skills do you need to become a dermatology nurse?

Dermatology nurses must be able to assist NPs or physicians during procedures, provide wound care, monitor patient vital signs, and educate patients on skin health and post-operative care.

question-mark-circleWhat is the quickest way to become a dermatology nurse?

The fastest route to becoming a dermatology nurse is earning a two-year ADN degree. You must have a high school diploma or a GED certificate and course credits in science and math. After you graduate, you must take and pass the NCLEX-RN.

question-mark-circleWhat career advancements are there for dermatology nurses?

As a dermatology nurse, you have several paths to advancement. You can earn certification as a dermatology nurse, become an NP by earning an MSN degree, or earn NP dermatology nurse specialist certification if you are already a licensed NP. In states with full practice authority for NPs, you could even open your own practice. Another career advancement is becoming certified in cosmetic injections (Botox, juvaderm, fillers, etc.), also called a certified injector.

Reviewed by:

Portrait of Elizabeth M. Clarke, FNP, MSN, RN, MSSW

Elizabeth M. Clarke, FNP, MSN, RN, MSSW

Elizabeth Clarke (Poon) is a board-certified family nurse practitioner who provides primary and urgent care to pediatric populations. She earned a BSN and an MSN from the University of Miami.

Clarke is a paid member of our Red Ventures Education Integrity Network. Learn more about our review partners.

Page last reviewed June 18, 2022

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